- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Matt Slauson will be the starting left guard for the New York Jets when they host the Baltimore Ravens to open the regular season Monday. Jets coach Rex Ryan made it official Thursday.
Slauson does not expect it to be an easy debut.
"I just got to know what to expect, I know they're going to be coming after me because they consider me the weak point now in the line," Slauson said. "But it's my job to not just win the starting job, it's to play at the same level as Nick [Mangold] and D'Brickashaw [Ferguson] and Brandon [Moore] and [Damien] Woody and all those guys so I've just got to study and prepare and get it done."
Mangold, the Jets center, said it will be a high-profile moment, but that's not a bad thing.
"It is going to be difficult for him but I think you want that as a player, you want that on your shoulders, you want to prove that you know what you're doing," Mangold said. "And I'll be there as a guiding force as best I can."
Slauson's biggest moment of training camp might just have been during the second preseason game of the year, when his missed block led to a sack that came dangerously close to Mark Sanchez's surgically repaired left knee.
Nonetheless, his linemates think Slauson will be fine.
"I think he's ready; preseason is preseason," Woody said. "Everybody wasn't crisp in the preseason but he has been working hard at this all offseason. He's been waiting for this moment so I have all the confidence in the world in Matt Slauson and his ability to go out there and perform at a high level."
Slauson came to the Jets by way of Nebraska, where he was recruited by Jets offensive line coach Bill Callahan. Callahan recommended Slauson to Ryan during the sixth round of the 2009 draft. Slauson has the advantage of many years in the current system and one year under Faneca, who is now playing for the Arizona Cardinals.
The move to cut Faneca stunned some fans. Former quarterback Joe Namath, who came out during the first week of training camp in Cortland, arrived full of praise for Sanchez but was so preoccupied with the offensive line that several questions led back to the same point.
"I'm more worried about our left guard position than I'm worried about anything," Namath said. "The offensive line is a major factor in letting the offense produce."
As a high pick, Ducasse was expected to put up more of a fight, but he was ultimately too raw. He may not have won the job this time, but the rookie with the prototypical LG frame will be looking to improve as the season goes along.
"Right now I've just got to keep working hard," Ducasse said. "That's what I can do, that's what I can say right now."
Slauson will be flying his parents in for the game, so they can see him play in front of a sold out New Meadowlands Stadium and a "Monday Night Football" viewing audience.
"It's a dream come true being able to play on the best offensive line in the NFL," Slauson said. "I couldn't be more pleased right now."